Today saw an incredible and tragic event break out in the Philippines when a busload of Hong Kong tourists were taken hostage by a lone ex-policeman who subsequently killed 8 of them before being shot dead by police. Apparently seriously incompetent bungling by Filipino SWAT members and police led to the gory finale, and this not surprisingly has created a storm in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s head Donald Tsang, politicians and the public seem to be extremely upset with the Philippines, none more so than online folks. Unfortunately, some of the anger has turned into racist and hateful comments directed at the nation and given the large number of Filipino workers in Hong Kong, this may lead to an ugly backlash against them. I find this disturbing, of course, and also mindboggling how inept the Filipino police reaction was. Things like the police cowering around the bus and taking too much time to storm the bus and using an axe to try and break the bus window and dropping it would seem laughable were it not for the deaths. There is also the blurry circumstances concerning the hostage-taker’s brother who was brought in to negotiate, who CNN said was arrested for trying to conspire with his brother.

I was also surprised to see this happen in the Philippines, though crime is a big problem there. I’ve always had an impression that while it was tremendously poor, it was relatively safe in terms of crime, not counting the political coups and instability of course. Well, I’ve never had much of an inclination to go there so this certainly doesn’t change my mind.